Chief of the Mountains is grim, rugged, and majestic. Indeed,
these are very good reasons for the Blackfeet Indians to have
named the awesome peak, Chief Mountain. It is located in Montana,
in the northeastern corner of Glacier National Park.
Tribal historian Yellow Wolfe of the Blackfeet tribe always
enjoyed telling the following story about Chief Mountain and the
people who once lived in its shadow.
Two members of the Blackfeet tribe were Wise Man and his wife.
Their people called him Wise Man because he always seemed to know
how to do everything right.
At that time, the Blackfeet wore the plainest kinds of clothes.
Wise Man thought about this for a long time. One day he said to
his wife, "Let us go away for a while. I wish to make some things
that I have been planning for a long time."
Wise Man and his wife packed their travois, which was drawn by
dogs, and moved to the base of the Inside Lakes. There they made
their camp. He hunted and killed enough game for him and his wife
and their dogs before beginning work on his plan.
First, he climbed to the high ridge between the lakes and Little
River, where he dug an eagle trap. Beside the pit, he laid a deer
and slashed its body to attract an eagle. When all was ready,
Wise Man jumped into the pit and covered it with willow sticks
and grass to make a blind. He waited for an eagle to come.
Several eagles, with their wings swishing the air, sailed down
upon the deer.
While the eagles ate at the deer, Wise Man reached up cautiously,
snatched the legs of an eagle, and pulled it down into the pit.
By repeating this method, he caught a large number of eagles.
These he tied together, dragging them to his camp. There, he
removed their tail feathers, their fluffy plume feathers, and
other useful feathers that would help his plan.
As winter arrived, weasels appeared, and Wise Man hunted them
This was more difficult than trapping eagles but he set many
snares and caught about a hundred weasels.
Wise Man made himself an eagle headdress and hung white weasel
fur skins upon it. Along the seams of his shirt sleeves and
leggings, he hung more weasel skins. Adorned with his newly
decorated clothes, he presented himself to his wife.
"Oh, you look brave and handsome!" she said. "Your new clothes
with feathers and furs are the most beautiful ones I have ever
"I'm glad you like them," he replied. "Now I want to make
something special for you."
Wise Man put away his new clothes, and dressed for hunting. He
started out to look for elk. From these animals, he collected the
skins, tusks, and teeth. He sewed them in decorative rows on the
front and back of his wife's new dress. Both of them thought it
"Now we have a fine new appearance," she said. "Shall we go home
to Chief Mountain and show our people what you have
"Not yet," answered Wise Man. "Something is lacking, and I must
discover what it is. I shall ask the Great Spirit to show me what
more I must do."
On the very next day, when Wise Man walked through the timber, he
found a dead porcupine. Its quills were scattered around on the
ground. He examined them, thinking how he could dye the quills
different colours. If he could, his wife's new dress would be
even more beautiful, he thought. He shot another porcupine for
its quills, and carried the animal home to cook.
"I know the yellow moss growing on pine trees will stain anything
yellow," his wife suggested. "The color will not fade or wash
off. I'm sure you can find other dyes for different colours,
He found green in another wood, and red in the juice of a certain
plant. So Wise Man dyed the quills three colours--yellow, green,
and red. He flattened the quills somewhat and sewed them side by
side on the leather clothes, making different designs. He took a
long time with his work. Finally, he had enough for his shirt and
leggings, as well as for the neck the front, and the back of his
wife's new dress.
Each of them were so pleased with the colourful and charming
appearance of the other that they hugged and danced together for
At last, Wise Man felt satisfied with the way his plan had
developed. They broke camp and started home to their people near
Chief Mountain. When they came within sight of their tribe, they
put on their newly decorated clothes.
When their friends saw them approaching they did not at first
believe they were Wise Man and his wife. But when they came
closer, their people recognized them. All of the tribe crowded
about Wise Man and his wife, staring, touching, and asking many
questions about how their clothes were made.
Wise Man showed all of the people at Chief Mountain how he
created the new ornaments. Immediately, the people began to
gather the materials to make decorated clothes for themselves.
Since that time, the Blackfeet Indians have become very well
known for their handsome and colourful dress. Wise Man became a
strong leader in his tribe. He was acclaimed for discovering how
to make everything more beautiful. This is why his people loved
him and always called him Chief Wise Man of the Blackfeet tribe.